Friday, April 17, 2015

A.D.: How JESUS is saving Primetime – He graces the cover of “TV Guide” TODAY!

Is JESUS really saving Hollywood through primetime TV? The critically-acclaimed NBC series, A.D. The Bible Continues” is impacting Hollywood by opening up dialogue about religion and Biblical stories and issues. The 12-part serieswhose Easter Sunday debut garnered the #1 television show in America spot with over 9.5 million viewers and Trending at #1 on Twitter, now graces the cover of the current double issue of “TV Guide” (link to full story: http://www.tvguidemagazine.com/stations-of-the-cross-how-jesus-is-saving-primetime-ad-the-bible-continues/). – a phenomenon that hasn’t happened in nearly two decades!
Executive Producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who saw enormous success of their first miniseries, "The Bible," are at the forefront of a wave of religious programming taking the country by storm. You may wonder why Mark & Roma are putting their faith in religious TV? Is it working, is it worth it, and do they really see it making a difference?
 “A.D. The Bible Continues” returns to primetime on NBC this Sunday, April 19 at 9/8c for Episode (3) when the Holy Spirit “shows up” & reveals the promise of Jesus, which still brings division in the church today. 
We are so grateful your support and enthusiasm and hope that you will continue to spread the word about this powerful series that’s impacting our current culture through primetime TV.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sand in My Sandwich by Sarah Parshall Perry - REVIEWED



About the Book:
here is no perfect family, no life free of mess.
But in the midst of all of it, God is there, reminding us, "My child, I got this."

You know that thing when you're in Walmart at noon before you discover you haven't brushed your teeth? Sarah Parshall Perry gets that. She also gets weird things showing up in her bed, her daughter requesting war paint, and her son crawling into a giant blue sock on Christmas morning. Sometimes, she gets that conflicted feeling of finding her kids hanging out in the dog's cage and realizing that, yes, dog cages are not for people, but . . . they have stopped getting into trouble.

According to Perry, "The hardest stuff is the quickest way to God." And if the systematic destruction of her carefully planned life is any indication, she's on the fast track to sainthood! A mother of three children, two of whom are on the autism spectrum, she has experienced plenty of ups and downs. But from the chaos of her "ordinary" life, she pulls truth packed with humor, poignancy, and a naked honesty that will make you realize you are not alone in this delightfully messy thing called motherhood. 

So sit back, relax awhile, and get ready to laugh.

My Thoughts:
I spent a lot of time lying in bed and staring at the celiing, wondering how I was going to wrestle my circumstances back into obedience.”  (p. 69)

So I began to slowly dispatch with the idea of a perfectly controlled life.”  (p. 189)

That first quote, in all of its transparent clarity, convicts me.  I relate to Sarah Parshall Perry’s desire to wrestle my circumstances into obedience.  The second quote gives me encouragement.  I also relate to the perceived chaos and sometimes painful events God allows into our lives to mold us into His image – to be the people He has created us to be. I think I would love to sit down and share live with Sarah.  I think we would laugh and cry together and praise God for His goodness and mercy to us!

I must say, Sarah’s story is loaded with challenges, triumphs, tragedy and just day to day chaos. As much as I could relate to the ways motherhood shaped and molded  her life, at one point I just wanted to cry out to God, “enough already!”  She has born, and still bears, a load of circumstances that only God’s strength can shoulder.  What I love about this story is the way the reader grows alongside Sarah on her journey.  You can’t help but pause and consider how you have and are currently interacting with God through your own life circumstances.  It is both humbling and encouraging.

I’m amazed at how incredibly talented and faithful she is despite the storms that blow through her life. (on a regular basis, it seems)  She continues to use the talents God has gifted her with to bless others – especially her husband and children.  She’s honest about her failures and struggles, but she’s quick to give all praise to God for what He has accomplished in her life through those trials.


I am happy to recommend this book!  It is a special tribute to God’s everyday, amazing grace and mercy that He lavished on His children!!

About the Author:
Sarah Parshall Perry (JD, University of Virginia School of Law) is a wife and mother of three young children. She is the coauthor of When the Fairy Dust Settles (with her mother, Janet Parshall) and the author of numerous magazine articles, award-winning short stories, and poetry. Sarah has served in youth ministry for over ten years and is currently writing for www.ChosenFamilies.org where she encourages other families living with disabilities. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where she spends most of her days fighting for time in front of the computer. Learn more at www.sarahparshallperry.com.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Jaded by Varina Denman - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Jaded
by
Varina Denman





About the Book:
On the surface, nothing seems to change in this dull town-yet God always works beneath the surface. As a child, Ruthie was shunned by the local congregation after a scandal involving her parents.

Thirteen years later, her interest in an attractive single minister is bitterly opposed - unearthing a string of secrets which threaten to turn the church, the town, and her world upside down.

Plunging deep into the waters of shame, forgiveness, and restoration, Varina Denman's contemporary novel will resonate with every woman who's experienced a loss of heart...and a thirst for hope.

My Thoughts:
We simply think our young man ought to spend more time with those inside the church than those outside.  No matter who they are.”  (p. 285)

God is capable of forgiving the darkest sins, and He expects us to do the same.”  (p. 390)

Varina Dneman’s debut novel, Jaded,  could have been taken from my own life story.  These opening quotes sum up the vast ocean that divides congregations – small or large – when the spirit of religion takes the place of a heart of forgiveness.  It is little wonder Ruthie and her family have little to do with the church who practically labeled them unclean and shoved them to the outer reaches of the town’s community.  It is also little wonder that Ruthie and her family are immediately skeptical of the new pastor and his rather non-traditional family.  Finally, it is very little wonder that the town of Trapp isn’t prepared for what the love of God can unleash in the hearts of people who are thirsty for the love and forgiveness that only God can bring about in the hearts of this very Jaded community.

The unforgiving, judgmental hearts of the people of Trapp have taken refuge in the lie of the enemy and believed that they have only the best intentions for the people of the town.  The truth is, they are just trying to cover their own sin be crucifying one of their own when the opportunity presents itself.  They will do almost anything to keep their secrets, including firing the new preacher when they begin to witness the powerful transformation that forgiveness begins to bring about in the lives of some of their most jaded town members.

I’ve seen this entire fictional tale lived out in bold color a few times in my almost 48 years on this earth.  I’ve seen families – both blood related and spiritually birthed – torn to bits by those who allow the spirit of religion to reign in their hearts.  I’ve also seen the transformational power of God’s love and forgiveness mend those broken hearts.  Not without a great cost, but the healing does come in time.  This is a beautiful story that captures all of the nuances of a small town and the intricacies requires to untangle the mess that has bound the residents of Trapp for decades.

It’s time to walk in the freedom of forgiveness, dear readers.  Won’t you join Ruthie on her journey?  A thought-provoking, well-written story that I recommend for those who want to be transformed by the love of  Christ. 

About the Author:

Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. She teaches creative writing and literature, volunteers in her local cooperative, and is a home educator to her five children. She resides with her family in North Texas. This is her first novel.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Award-winning vocalist hopes new music project will help curb biblical illiteracy

Columbus, OH -- According to a LifeWay Research study, only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week, and 18 percent of attenders say they never read the Bible. A Barna research study showed that 60% of Americans cannot name five of the ten commandments. Similar surveys have shown that scripture illiteracy is at an all-time high, and Telly Award winner and top 40 Billboard artist, Jennifer Shaw, hopes her new project will help alter the current trend.
Shaw is releasing a children’s music project entitled Scripture Memory Songs for Kids and Families, which features 30 word-for-word scripture songs from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible.  The NIV version is the second most popular version according to American Bible Society, surpassed only by the King James. The recording project also includes nine bonus Christian theme songs suitable for Vacation Bible School curriculums or for other kids-themed events.  Shaw says the project has been eight years in the making.
“My church was looking for some scripture memory songs that were for older kids,” says Shaw.  “Specifically, we wanted word-for-word scripture songs that included the references and were from the NIV.  We could not find many options, and the ones we did find were for very young children and didn't appeal to our age group. We wanted them to be fun and upbeat and cool - something the whole family could listen to in the car.  So I decided to begin writing music to fit some scriptures that I wanted my own kids to learn and each year, I would write more songs to go along with our Vacation Bible School events. It just grew from there.”

Scripture Memory Songs for Kids and Families is targeted to kids from kindergarten age up to sixth grade, though Shaw admits she hopes that adults will listen with their children.

“It is definitely challenging to write music for scriptures as there is typically no meter or rhyme,” says Shaw, “but it is a great way for kids – and adults – to memorize verses. This generation of kids needs the Word of God embedded in their hearts and minds maybe more than any generation before them. I hope this project will be a fun way for kids to fall in love with the Bible.”

Shaw has garnered several accolades within the Christian music industry over the past few years, including a #3 song on the national Inspirational radio charts.  The music video for her self-penned song, “Your Child,” won a Telly Award and debuted on Focus on the Family’s “I Am Pro-Life” Facebook page to over 500,000 followers.  The song has been used by Joni and Friends, a worldwide organization which serves people with disabilities, founded by popular author and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada. 
Shaw’s book Life Not Typical: How Special Needs Parenting Changed my Faith and my Song, was chosen for the Resource Library of Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. The book chronicles Shaw's journey when her son, Toby, was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) at an early age. SPD is closely aligned with autism in that every autistic child has some form of SPD. One study estimated that 1 in 20 children in the U.S. are affected by the disorder.

Shaw’s song “God Loved the World,” which she co-wrote with Lifeway’s Songwriter of the Year, Paul Marino, was the theme song for the annual Evangelical Covenant Church conference and was featured in a  Lifeway Christmas musical. The song was also made into an Easter choral anthem and became a #1 best-seller for Lifeway Christian Resources.
With degrees in both piano and vocal performance, Shaw completed her graduate work in opera performance at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music.  A former professor at Cedarville University, Shaw now travels full-time as a singer and speaker. For more information on Jennifer Shaw, visit www.JenniferShaw.com.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Identical - REVIEWED


About the Movie:
The Identical, which won the Nashville Film Festival Audience Award - U.S. Narrative, features an all-star cast, including including Golden Globe nominees Ray Liotta (GoodfellasField of Dreams), Ashley Judd (Dolphin Tale 2Divergent), Seth Green (Austin PowersFamily Guy), Joe Pantoliano (The SopranosThe Matrix), and newcomer Blake Rayne in the pivitol lead role.

The Identical released on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, DVD, VOD and Digital HD on January 13 from City of Peace Films, Capitol Christian Distribution and Cinedigm. For more information on The Identical, visit theidenticalmovie.com or like on Facebook at facebook.com/IdenticalMovie.
My Thoughts:
I know this movie released a few weeks ago, but I was given the privilege of watching it tonight, and I must say this is a fascinating “what if” scenario that is built around one of the greatest singers of the last century.  More than a tribute to good music and the birth of rock-and-roll, this film explores the concept of identity.  We all have a unique calling to be who God created us to be, and the struggle to find that identity is truly a life-long process. 

Both Drexel and Ryan defy their parents “dreams”  for their lives and step into their own calling.  This move is not without personal sacrifice and, most of the time, is not a well-accepted move to make.  Oddly, the timing of my opportunity to view this film coincides with the moments in my own life where I am the parent that is learning to let go of my child and boldly tell him to be who God has called him to be.  Believe me, I’ve shed a few tears watching this movie!
This is a family-friendly film with great music!  There are good values and spot-on encouragement for both parents and children!  Now, go, watch this movie, and then, thank God for His gift of children and give them a hug and let them follow their dream!

About City of Peace Films:
City of Peace Media and City of Peace Films includes, but is not limited to, the following list of creative services: major physical and digital distribution, record production, artist management, artist development, music publishing, song development, art direction, graphic design, website development, music video production, film production and film development. City of Peace Media also consults in the following strategic areas: marketing plan development, public relations planning, radio promotion, publicity, advertising, touring and name branding. The primary focus of City of Peace Media and City of Peace Films is to provide a framework where music, films and video with "redeeming value" can be developed, produced and distributed worldwide, bringing a message of hope, love and encouragement to this generation.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing

About the Book:
In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes. 

That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father's investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”? 

A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.


My Thoughts:
Doona be afraid to ask Him the hard questions.  He oft poses them Himself.”  (p. 87)

Mist of Midnight is the debut of Daughters of Hampshire series.  Sandra Byrd has taken the Victorian-Gothic novel to an epic level of intrigue!  The entire premise begins with a stolen identity (the 19th century has its own set of woes when it comes to identity theft!), then takes on a hint of romance that then becomes suspect .This novel is truly smoke and mirrors much of the time! Byrd casts doubt in every direction, then adds some unexplainable occurrences that keep the reader a bit tense thinking that death lies just around the corner for some unexpecting  character.  I can honestly say that Mist of Midnight is quite the thrill ride – all within the context of high society England.

To add another layer of intrigue and spiritual depth, Byrd incorporates historically accurate depictions of the mission work being done in India by wealthy English citizens.  It is fascinating, and, at times, convicting, to realize the sacrifice people make to ensure that the gospel reached the Indian people. Byrd keeps it honest though.  The missionaries faced their own trials, and sometimes those trials left them with doubts about God’s love and mercy in their lives.  This is a very multi-layered novel that readers will find intriguing on many levels.

I want to encourage readers everywhere to pick up a copy of Mist of Midnight.  You will definitely burn through some midnight oil trying to figure out who can be believed in this story!  Enjoy!

About the Author:



Sandra Byrd is a noted author of historical fiction, including the first book in her Tudor series, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. She lives near Seattle, Washington. Visit SandraByrd.com.

Friday, April 3, 2015

A.D. The Bible Continues - REVIEW of the first episode - premiering April 5th on NBC!



My Thoughts:

Truth. What is truth?”

 So begins the new NBC series A.D. that premieres Sunday night, April 5th, at 9pm EST. I’ll admit to being skeptical, because many film versions of Jesus’ life concentrate solely on historical accuracy, but this film attempts to capture the spiritual significance of Christ’s ministry here on earth. The show doesn’t fail to capture the historical accuracy needed for this to be impactful to the world, and this gives the opening episode of this new series a powerful appeal.

 Just prior to the crucifixion, the role of Christ only speaks the words that the Bible reveals. The other characters draw very realistic and biblically accurate conclusions from all the events taking place. The disciples are portrayed in a very accurate and human way, and their spiritual insight is reflected deeply and faithfully. They remain faithful even when approached by the religious zealots to fight against the oppression of Rome. Their character development takes nothing away from their spiritual strength and faithfulness to Christ’s teachings.

 I know the resurrection itself is difficult to portray using any and all earthly effects. How can the power and glory of God be portrayed? The guards were as dead men, according to the Bible. That is powerful! The events at the tomb itself were only briefly portrayed, and were, in fact. the only hint of Hollywood drama. Not surprising, but it was effective enough to make the final moments of the show poignant and expectant for what life in Jerusalem will look like when a resurrected Christ walks among his followers again.

 I think this promises to be a very thought-provoking series! I hope that God uses this as a powerful evangelical tool to draw many to Him in salvation! Don't miss it!